In the current job market, candidates pay close attention to how companies treat them during the interview process. They evaluate your communication, transparency, and length of the process. They research your online presence and read reviews of current and former employees and customers. They want to understand your company culture. For some, they conduct the research before they click “Apply.”
This company evaluation is “candidate experience.” It is how a job seeker perceives a company's brand throughout the hiring process — from the job description to the interview process, to follow-up communications. 80–90% of candidates say a positive or negative experience can change their minds about a role or company.
The candidate is evaluating and interviewing you and your company as much as you are evaluating and interviewing them. However, you have the power to win or lose out on great talent based on your hiring strategies.
If a poor hiring experience can cost businesses money, talent, time, and consumer goodwill, what do hiring managers and recruiters need to know to get ahead of the problem?
Every interaction matters.
The simplest way of understanding the candidate experience is to understand that every interaction, positive or negative, impacts the outcome. A positive interaction with a candidate is an investment in a future employee, customer, referral, etc. A negative interaction will have the opposite effect and may damage your company's brand. Which in turn could affect your business financially.
Ways to go from a negative to a positive candidate experience:
1. Application process
Negative Experience: Candidates are annoyed with lengthy application processes. This does not mean just the initial application submission, it also means the time spent waiting to see if they will be extended the job offer. Over half of job seekers say they quit the application/interview process due to its length or complexity (making them “jump through hoops.”) The average job seeker believes the length of time to find a new job is 2 weeks. A process that takes longer than that will have most candidates looking elsewhere. It goes without saying that if you try to reach out to someone after a month of no communication, they may no longer be available. And for those that are in high-demand talent, they may be scooped up within days.
Positive Experience: Make the application process as easy as possible. Try the experience for yourself and see if you can make improvements. Contact the candidates within 2 business days of applying. Sooner, if you are able. Keep the lines of communication open throughout the process. Keeping candidates informed and engaged is the best way to keep them a part of the interview process. Recommended: Try to shave off as many unnecessary steps as you can to prevent yourself from missing out on top talent.
2. Candidates are “unqualified”
Negative Experience: Candidates that apply are “unqualified” and “rejected” without looking beyond the resume or considering soft skills. The candidate may not have been spoken to, completed an assessment, or evaluated in any way.
Positive Experience: Start a conversation. Send them an email with more information:
Hi (candidate name)
Thank you for applying to the (job position) position. One of the requirements
for working in the office to sell insurance: a person is required to have a
Property and Casualty license for the state.
For more information on the Property and Casualty license, click on the links
(insert P&C license information links)
*This is not a contract of employment or a promise of employment if a Property
and Casualty license is obtained.
The candidates that are interested in taking the necessary steps will appreciate the information and the opportunity to discuss it with you further.
3. Lack of communication.
Negative Experience: Many hiring managers feel their work is done once they have received the signed offer letter. However, there is nothing further from the truth. They still need to engage with their new hire. Check in with them several times before their first day, especially if they don’t start immediately. Otherwise, you could lose your new employee to a competitor who is better with communication. Also, ⅔ of applicants say they never or rarely receive notice of their application status.
Positive Experience: Communication is key. From job descriptions and online applications to interviews and up to the final job offer, communication should be consistent for candidates and they should always know what to expect next. Though it may seem strange, a notification alerting a candidate that they are no longer being considered for a position goes a long way. It is recommended that you use multiple types of communication to contact candidates to stay in touch with them: text, email, phone, direct message, etc.
Negative Experience: Not being completely truthful about the position. You exaggerate or underplay the responsibilities. Or act like the details of the job are on a need-to-know basis. The salary isn’t posted in the job ad and you are reluctant to discuss it during the interview because this is where candidates “ghost” you. Requirements, such as education or state licensing, are not emphasized properly or you are vague on who will be the “right person” you will help to pay for it.
Positive Experience: Candidates expect transparency from a company they are considering. If they do not receive it, they have no issues with moving on to the next opportunity. Salary is an important part of a job but there are many places a candidate could go to earn money. Explain your whole compensation package in detail. What can they expect to make their 1st year if inexperienced? What can they expect to make if they are experienced? What are your benefits? Do you offer on-the-job training, growth opportunities, and career advancement? Conduct job market research to ensure you are competitive with your area and competitors. Make your compensation package attractive to top talent in your area.
5. Company Brand / Reputation
Negative Experience: Nearly 60% of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience, and 72% have shared their experience on online employer review sites such as Glassdoor.com. If this happens to your company, it is a red flag to candidates and they will not apply to a company that has a bad reputation.
Positive Experience: With technology, word spreads faster than ever. Companies must realize that online reviews are a big part of the candidate journey. Past candidates might share their experience with the company online and are more likely to do so when they had a negative experience. Future candidates are then bound to find out what people say about your company through online sites. These negative reviews will affect your company’s recruiting ability. Recommendation: Be proactive and check your online presence to see what employees and customers alike are sharing about their experiences with your company.
Negative Experience: Late to or missed interview, unprepared, or distracted during the interview. These are strong red flags to the candidate you are not interested in and likely not a good fit for them. Constant interruptions may give the impression of what your company culture is truly like: trust in your employees may be lacking. Due to how busy you are, you may also give the impression you will not have time to train, provide ongoing coaching, or have time for a new employee. Remember: the majority of candidates leave their new job within the first 90 days of hire.
Positive Experience: Conduct your interviews with purpose. Know who you are interviewing and why. Review their resume, assessments, questionnaires, etc. Create specific questions for the job position. Ask follow-up questions. Only conduct interviews you need. Don’t overlap or have more with the same person because you feel you didn’t get enough information the first time. Have others involved in the process with you.
Summary: To give a positive candidate experience for job seekers, provide communication on where they are in the interview process, be transparent about the company and job responsibilities, review your online presence and company brand and address issues, conduct structured and informative interviews, and stay away from speaking negatively about current or former employees.
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